Other Comments: Steve Mouzon on the Citadel, Kaid Benfield on the New American Home

Last Valentine's Day I wrote that "Kaid Benfield of the NRDC Switchboard and Steve Mouzon of the Original Green are the two writers that have most influenced my thinking and writing on planning, urban design and architectural preservation over the last few years."

Last week my two favorite writers took stories from TreeHugger as starting points for wonderful essays that expanded on the themes.

From the second-story balcony, accessed by the spiral stair, as well as an interior staircase that leads to a billiard lounge and bar overlooking the kitchen, all of the elements of the house come together and reveal its three main levels/ Trent Bell/Promo image

Kaid Benfield of NRDC Switchboard picked up on IBS Home Gets LEED Points, But Misses the Green Point and focused on the ludicrousness of giving it the highest LEED rating possible. And he likes the house!

In particular, did you know that this latest LEED-Platinum home – the highest rating bestowed by the Green Building Council, in theory only for the very greenest of green buildings – is nearly three times the size of the average new American home? Would you be surprised to learn that it sits on a lot occupying two-thirds of an acre, consuming nearly twice as much land as the average new-home lot in a US metro area? How about that it is located in a “gated community” on the far outskirts of Las Vegas, 1.2 miles to the nearest transit stop? Or that its Walk Score is a miserable 38 out of a possible 100 points?

He calls it spectacular and beautiful, and I agree that there are some nice things happening here.

To my eyes, the new American home is spectacular and beautiful. I love the architecture and think all the water features would be soothing (and certainly a contrast from the building’s dry, desert surroundings; Henderson, the exurb of Las Vegas where Marquis Seven Hills is located, receives a mere four and a half inches of water per year). The photos look wonderful.

But is it worthy of being certified LEED-platinum, the greenest of the green? Maybe not, if you consider its outlandish size and challenging climate setting.

More at NRDC Switchboard: As good and important as it is, LEED can be so embarrassing

Citadel III/Promo image

At his Original Green blog, Steve Mouzon picks up on The Citadel is a Planned Community Designed for Resilience and Sustainability. Not. He thinks it is a model of New Urbanist design, with a big dollop of Agenda 21. Outside of the guns and ammo, it is positively bucolic:

What you see here is a place with defined boundaries, several neighborhoods, a town green and amphitheater, a town center, a factory on the edge, farmland all around the outer walls and a farmers' market just inside the main gate. In other words, it's a town. Except for the town walls and sometimes the farmland outside, these are components you'd find in any New Urbanist town.

Importantly, he calls for an end to the politicization of planning that we have seen with Agenda 21.

Here's an idea: politics only last until the next election unless there's a recall, in which case they don't even last that long. But buildings can last for centuries and cities can last for millennia. So if your prime interest is politics, then go and fight those short-term battles, and good luck with that. Seriously. But don't take good place-making principles and make them political. Leave the short-term principles in the short-term battles, and the long-term principles in the long-term battles, where they each belong. Town-building is too important to get caught up in politics because the towns and cities last so long.

Bravo. More at The Original Green: The Citadel Conundrum

Tags: Agenda 21 | Green Building | Urban Planning

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